Neverland Review

We all know and love Peter Pan and the story of the Lost Boys. So I was excited when a Peter-Pan inspired, immersive musical was headlining the Vaults Festival.

Running from January 24th to March 18th, the Vaults Festival will feature over three hundred new shows and is the biggest platform in London for artists to present innovative works. Neverland is produced by The Guild of Misrule and Theatre Deli, Olivier Award winning producers and the creators of the sell-out smash hit The Great Gatsby performed at The Vaults in 2017.

Written and directed by Alexander Wright, the play does not focus on Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, but instead how this favourite fiction was inspired. Author JM Barrie is the main character. He is joined by the Llewelyn Davies family and his brother David, who died at the age of 14, whom inspired the Darling family and Peter Pan respectively. There are elements from Peter Pan you’ll recognise such as a meeting of the Lost Boys, and a battle between the Lost Boys and Captain Hook and the pirates.

However, the plot was difficult to follow especially when it appears Peter has left Neverland and started a publishing company that doesn’t publish fiction or children’s stories. Like most of us, the Boy Who Never Grew Up, had to grow up.

Most of the time all the actors and audiences members are on the main ‘stage’ which was a cavenous room. Given the flat surface it was difficult to see the action and facial expressions when you’re at the back. As an immersive show, there are occasions when actors select groups of people to follow them into other rooms. I was selected to go into Barrie’s study where we find out some information about the Mother character. A short time after I was also selected to write my mother’s name in the sand, located in a small area between the study and a room with bank beds. Although getting to see another set was interesting, when you return to the main area you have no idea what’s going on. Also not everyone gets to explore all the sets.The transitioning between rooms can be clunky and distracting. It was also difficult to hear some of what was happening given the noises of competing scenes in other rooms.

As the battle approaches between the pirates and Lost Boys, the audience is split to make armies for both sides. We are told to make barricades using the props (chests, beds, squash racquet) and told to throw paper balls at each other. The light effects and music at this time made it the highlight of the show.

For a musical, there weren’t as many songs as I thought. The lament “Sometimes I feel Like a Motherless Child” was sung extremely well. As a clarinetist, I particularly enjoyed a melody towards the end featuring my favourite instrument.

All of the Llewelyn Davies children are played by women, as is Captain Hook. While some of the performances were good, others seemed half-hearted. I would have liked to see more of Hook, as she was fantastic.

There is a long monologue at the end highlighting themes found in Barrie’s work: the futility of war, how the youth of today will be the adults of tomorrow and that we each have a responsibility as individuals and society to learn and pass on knowledge.

Neverland has been marketed as a way to rediscover your lost child, but we left feeling slightly confused.

Neverland is performing Wednesdays to Sundays from 24th January to 18th March at 7pm. Price is £26.50. The performance lasts for 90 minutes.

Address: The Vaults, Leake St, London SE1 7NN


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